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Tiger girls can play the physical style of hockey

Sometimes the way a team plays is just as important as whether there is a notch put in the win or loss column.

This weekend's play of the New Richmond girls hockey team is a good example. The Tigers split their games over the weekend, but that couldn't lessen the enthusiasm Tiger coach Steve Gehr showed about the team's play.

On Friday night the Tigers played at Onalaska, losing 2-0. Onalaska is a team that has historically given the Tigers fits because of their physical style. This time, the Tigers were ready to play that style in what was another rock'em, sock'em type of game.

"I'm really proud how this young team stood up to them and never backed down," Gehr said. "This was our most physical game all year."

In their first meeting of the season the Tigers and Onalaska played to a scoreless tie. Gehr said he felt the Tigers played Onalaska tougher than they had at any time in the previous three seasons.

Onalaska scored its first goal with 6:22 left in the first period. Onalaska got its second goal 33 seconds into the second period. Onalaska outshot the Tigers 33-20 in the game. Lea Jondal made 31 saves against a hard-charging Onalaska team.

The Tigers then turned around and played at Viroqua on Saturday afternoon. The energy the Tigers showed at Onalaska continued in this game, where the Tigers recorded a 5-1 win.

This game was scoreless for most of the first period. Hannah Haffner finally got the scoring started 11:27 into the game. Her shot from high in the zone fooled the Onalaska goalie, with Hannah Dove getting the assist on the score.

Viroqua tied the game 3:45 into the second period. The Tigers took the lead at the 8:39 mark of the second period. Senior Steph Kendrick got the goal, moments after a Tiger power play had ended. Haffner got the assist.

Twenty-one seconds later the Tigers scored again, on a textbook piece of hockey. Kendrick got the puck and skated down the slot, drawing the Onalaska defenders. She then made a nice drop pass and moved in to screen the Onalaska goalie. Leah Egan had followed Kendrick down the slot and she took the drop pass and snapped the puck past the Onalaska goalie.

Gehr said the coaches have been trying to keep the Tiger forwards moving into scoring positions when Kendrick makes her patented moves toward the opponent's goal. This goal was a result of Egan recognizing where Kendrick was headed and getting into position to give Kendrick a passing option.

The Tigers scored two more goals in the third period. Natalie Olbrantz took a pass from Kendrick in neutral ice, made a couple nice moves, and deposited the puck into the upper corner of the goal. Her score came 6:22 into the third period.

Just over two minutes later, senior Erin Dodor netted the final goal. Dodor ripped a shot from the point that beat the Onalaska goal to the top corner of the goal. Olbrantz and Clarissa Anderson assisted on the goal.

Gehr said one of the most pleasing parts of the team's play over the weekend was the girls executed things that they have been working at during practices.

"You could tell, they were thinking, really working on puck control," Gehr said.

The Tigers will get to play Viroqua again this Friday. This time the game will be played in New Richmond, starting at 7 p.m.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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